Posted in the Cerebral Palsy Forum
Since: Aug 12
Cerebral Palsy Numbers in the U.S.
by Peter Wendt
Cerebral palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that have no current cure and, in many cases, no identifiable cause. The March of Dimes estimates that 2-to-3 children out of every 1000 born suffer from cerebral palsy. According to the CDC, 10,000 American babies are born each year with the condition. Although there is no known cure, treating the symptoms has proven to be an effective tool to improve the quality of life for children with the cerebral palsy.
Sources of Cerebral Palsy:
Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal brain development. Although it is most often present at birth, it may take time to recognize the symptoms and receive a proper diagnosis. Children are most often diagnosed before age three, when it becomes apparent that their motor skills or learning abilities fail to progress normally.
Several known risk factors have been associated with a higher incidence of cerebral palsy in infants including severe jaundice, genetic inheritance, maternal blood diseases and infections, and premature birth. Brain injury in the womb, during the birthing process, or in early infancy can also result in cerebral palsy.
Types of Cerebral Palsy:
As with any disorder, children may exhibit different symptoms and degrees of impairment. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports that two-thirds of children with cerebral palsy encounter neurological impairment, sometimes accompanied by seizures.
More than three-quarters of children with cerebral palsy have a spastic disorder. In children with spastic cerebral palsy, the muscles tense up and restrict free movement, sometimes leading to permanent disfigurement. Spastic CP can be isolated to the legs (diplagia), one side of the body (hemiplagia), or both the arms and the legs (quadriplegia). A small percentage (5-10%) are athetoid and ataxic patients who have whole-body difficulties with muscle coordination and movements.
Treatment and Research:
Current research efforts are focusing on symptom management and risk factor reduction. Physical therapy plays an important role in improving the quality of life of cerebral palsy sufferers. Therapy results in improved patient movements, strength and control. Other therapies, such as speech therapy, mechanical aids, drugs to reduce spasticity and, in extreme cases, even surgery are used to further enhance a child's long-term comfort.
While the medical research community continues to search for a cerebral palsy cure, risk factor reduction has become a focus. Premature births and maternal infection prevention measures, as well as improved treatments and therapies, are being developed for children born with cerebral palsy.
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